Friday, October 13, 2006

The Name of This Song Is Not "Bernadette" -- Doing Battle with a Dead Medium

I don't have a CD player in my car, or even a cassette deck, and I am so far away from having enough energy or patience to set myself up with one of them iPod radio magillicuddies that you wouldn't believe it. Three or four days a week I drive 25 miles to and from work, which takes about an hour each direction.

Therefore, I listen to the radio a lot. Radio today is perhaps the most dreaded mass medium of all. The vast majority of it is horrible, and getting worse every year. Nobody wants to listen to the radio anymore, and I don't blame them.

But, a lot of the time, I enjoy the challenge. I like to confront radio head on. I ain't takin' no guff from no dilapidated mass medium!

There are a couple Chicago rock stations that purport to be special, and occasionally they play something good. There is a decent oldies station with a pretty big playlist. But the preset buttons get a hell of a workout from me on every commute. It's like hunting snipe. And since I only have a few preset buttons in my crappy car, I've learned how many pushes of the tuning button up or down it takes to get to the next station that might, maybe, possibly be playing something I can stand to listen to, or, maybe even like. So when I run out of presets to monitor, I'm flipping two up or eight down to try another one. Still, sometimes I can't even find a single passable commercial radio station that isn't playing ... a commercial.

In Chicago, we are lucky to have several very good noncommercial stations, and I'm lucky enough to be able to tune many of them in -- among them, WNUR, WLUW, WZRD, WDCB -- but their programming is erratic, as it should be, and their geographic coverage areas are mostly pretty limited. Although sometimes I can leave it on one of those stations for the whole trip.

I don't listen to WBEZ.

So, yeah, that's how the commute generally goes. Plus, whenever any Four Tops song comes on the oldies station, no matter which song, I like to yell "BERNADETTE!!!" at the top of my lungs, especially in the summertime when I have the window rolled down.

When they come to take me away, you can say you saw it coming.

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